Thursday, April 19, 2012
It occurred to me the other day that my desire to always live near a really large body of water is going to kill me. All the schools I applied to were in heavy hurricane zones. The danger of skin cancer gets worse every year. And now I'll probably get cancer someday just from living on an ocean shore, from being in the water. I love Lake Erie, toxic algae blooms and all, but at this point I see my environment, no matter where I am, as being a thick soup of solvents.
The presiding story yesterday was All the Eyeless Shrimp and Mutated Crabs That Are Rotting In Denmark...I Mean, The Gulf. Our country is so big. It's so big that we can coat the entirety of one of our three coastlines with an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil, and 2 years later we've practically forgotten about. Tomorrow is the 2 year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent complete destruction of an ancient ecosystem that millions of Americans depended on for food and livelihood. And yet we're all shocked by this story, that all that oil and all the chemicals they pumped into the ocean to try and break up the oil, gather the oil, make the oil sink to the sea floor has caused severe carcinogenic mutations to the animals living there. The animals we like to eat at parties, with cocktail sauce.
This is probably just funny to me, but I've never been able to stomach eating shrimp specifically because of the eyes, which would remind me that they were whole little bug animals and I couldn't put a whole corpse in my mouth in one bite. But hey, no eyes now.
"Darla Rooks, a lifelong fisherperson from Port Sulfur, Louisiana, told Al Jazeera she is finding crabs "with holes in their shells, shells with all the points burned off so all the spikes on their shells and claws are gone, misshapen shells, and crabs that are dying from within … they are still alive, but you open them up and they smell like they've been dead for a week".
.... read that sentence again....cause it's horrible.
If you're an animal unlucky enough to be born in the Gulf, there's a few ways you could die now. You could of course die from oil poisoning, or whatever the technical term for being coated in poison is. You could be riddled with parasitic worms or covered in sponges, 2 invasive species that have taken root since the spill. You could be mutated and crippled from BP cleanup chemicals which changed your genome before you were even conceived. Or you could be eaten alive, swiss cheesed with lesions, from microbial swarms that have swelled since the spill. Or none of these things happen, you're a whale or a dolphin, you survive, but then you feed on these poisoned rotting carcasses of fish, and you die.
I know, it's easier to feel sorrier for dolphin than shrimp, cause, you know, predator. Shrimp don't seem alive to begin with, do they?
The entire Gulf Coast is a nightmare land. It's going to be a nightmare land for probably the rest of my life. We might as well have evacuated then napalmed the whole place. That might have been kinder and in the end, cleaner. I say We because We don't get to avoid guilt here. Sure BP's the one actually at fault, but we're the ones who bought their product, who continue to buy their product, who elect the officials that keep them in business. At this point, they are almost going to HAVE to stay in business to pay all the billions in reparations they owe to the people who live there, and all the future lawsuits coming round the bend. No, scratch that, we should just dissolve them completely and divide the lootings among those citizens left. I mean, we all know this, deep in our collective soul, that if there was justice, someone would have been sacrificed to the gods for this. Our collective soul is a deeply traumatized violent irrational place, but sometimes blood for blood just feels right.
Companies like BP are really proof that our society runs on death. We burn it, we eat it, we buy it. The entire industrial revolution was possible because of dead creatures buried in the earth. Scavengers. Jackals. Oh, I know, PREDATORS. But successful predators support ecosystem health, because it means they don't have to eat eyeless shrimp. I'm going to start The Religion of the Predator.
The State of Louisiana refuses the notion their seafood might be unsafe to eat. "We're testing, but still, everything's tested fine so far" is what they're basically saying. Because, seriously, what the fuck else are they going to say? THAT'S ALL THEY HAVE. Oil and seafood. I can't even get mad at Jindal for his posturing on this, because the apocalypse came early to his state, and that guy is so fucked. All those people are fucked. The Great Lakes have been poisoned and wrecked by our own history of manufacturing and chemical dumping sure, but it was over a much longer period of time. People had time to move away, get out, find other ways to make a living. Those people on the Gulf coast are just stuck there all of a sudden, living in a world where the soil and water are all carcinogenic, with no infrastructure set up for employment, and they don't even know how bad the future's going to be. Because we can understand the people portion of the disaster, and make people pay for that, but we can't understand the environmental impact, it's beyond our scope. This isn't the kind of disaster where it can only get better from the initial catastrophe. It is only going to get worse and worse.
I don't think modern man has the ability to even imagine what's actually happened, the enormity of it. We destroyed an entire ocean. We turned an entire ocean black and poisonous. That's like blowing up the Himalayas. But because our country is so big, we'll just continue to think of it once a year in April when someone trudges out a new tragic story and then everyone talks about Earth Day, and the bike people will shout some stuff, and just like every Earth Day in my memory I will feel this heavy lead weight of hopelessness in my weak tarred up lungs and chest, which will be so bombarded with conflicting leads of optimisms and horrors that by July I will have settled back into walking dead consumerist acceptance, which is more like PTSD than anything else. I'll spend my birthday in the water because it feels good, and I imagine I will never know what it feels like to be completely clean.
Posted by Bridget Callahan at 8:11 AM